Justification and the catholic gospel

Allen-Justification

R. Michael Allen (Knox Theological Seminar) is known to some readers of this blog for his publication last year, Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: An Introduction and Reader (T&T Clark), an excellent tool for classroom use. Prior to that, he published Reformed Theology in the T&T Clark series, “Doing Theology.”

His most recent monograph is a study of the doctrine of justification: Justification and the Gospel: Understanding the Contexts and Controversies (Baker Academic). He recounts his journey at the publisher’s website, as a once enthusiastic critic of the Protestant doctrine under the sway of the New Perspective. Things changed as he studied history and dogmatics:

But now I have written Justification and the Gospel: Understanding the Contexts and Controversies, arguing that the Protestant doctrine of justification is exegetically defensible and theologically essential to filling out catholic teaching on God’s relations to creatures in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This book manifests something of the journey I’ve been on now for a decade. I found that rising familiarity with the exegetical riches of the great teachers of the church (from Irenaeus and Gregory to Thomas and Bonaventure to Luther and Calvin) shows their brilliance as aids and our own limits as modern researchers. I’ve also seen that too often protests regarding the Reformation stem from really bad understandings of what it actually involved, too frequently based in reading of poor secondary sources rather than in careful study of primary texts. I hope this book serves as a useful prompt to further reflection in these two conversations: how do we think well of justification in light of the wider gospel of Jesus? And how do we go about the task of Christian theology and of a faithful Christian reading of the Holy Scriptures today?

At CBD, you can read an excerpt of the book’s first chapter. It appears that he is fruitfully borrowing from John Webster.

Also, the publisher has an excerpt on Barth’s “sense of proportion and order”: Barth, Justification, and the Gospel.

I do find it fascinating and encouraging that Allen teaches at a seminary (Knox) that is owned and operated by a PCA congregation, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, now pastored by Tullian Tchividjian. Needless to say, a friendliness toward Barth is not exactly commonplace in the PCA orbit.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this. Allen is a gifted writer and thinker. His book on Reformed theology is very good.

    He is ordained in the EPC if I am correct, and Knox would maybe qualify as the broadest (most elastic?) of any of the seminaries where ministers in the PCA might get educated (e.g. Waltke teaches there but had to leave RTS over theistic evolution).

    • Thanks, Pat. I was curious about which of the split P’s he belonged. EPC is very similar to ECO, which our church joined this year, and I suspect (and hope) that the two will unite at some point.

      I had forgotten that Waltke had joined Knox — so, yeah, that definitely makes Knox the most moderate of the PCA-focused seminaries.

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